Four Days Battle

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Coordinates: 51°22′30″N 1°26′42″E / 51.375°N 1.445°E / 51.375; 1.445


The Four Days Battle was a naval battle of the Second Anglo-Dutch War. Fought from 1 June to 4 June 1666 in the Julian or Old Style calendar then used in England (11 June to 14 June New Style) off the Flemish and English coast, it remains one of the longest naval engagements in history.

In June 1665 the English had soundly defeated the Dutch in the Battle of Lowestoft, but failed to take advantage of it. The Dutch Spice Fleet, loaded with fabulous riches, managed to return home safely after the Battle of Vågen. The Dutch navy was enormously expanded through the largest building programme in its history. In August 1665 already the English fleet was again challenged, though no large battles resulted. In 1666 the English became anxious to destroy the Dutch navy completely before it could grow too strong and were desperate to end the activity of Dutch raiders as a collapse of English trade threatened.

On learning that the French fleet intended to join the Dutch at Dunkirk, the English decided to prevent this by splitting their fleet. Their main force would try to destroy the Dutch fleet first, while a squadron under Prince Rupert was sent to block the Strait of Dover against the French - who did not appear.

At the start of the battle the English fleet of 56 ships commanded by George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle who also commanded the Red Squadron, was outnumbered by the 84-strong Dutch fleet commanded by Lieutenant-Admiral Michiel de Ruyter. The battle ended with a successful English disengagement after both fleets had expended most of their ammunition.

The Dutch inflicted significant damage on the English fleet. The English had gambled that the crews of the many new Dutch ships of the line would not have been fully trained yet but were deceived in their hopes: they lost ten ships, with slightly over 1,000 men killed including two Vice-Admirals, Sir Christopher Myngs and Sir William Berkeley, while about 2000 English were taken prisoner. Dutch losses were four ships destroyed by fire and over 1,550 men killed, including Lieut-Admiral Cornelis Evertsen, Vice-Admiral Abraham van der Hulst and Rear-Admiral Frederik Stachouwer.

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